As community efforts to reclaim 100,000 hectares of their ancestral land, initially seized over a century ago for oil palm plantations, are met with violent repression, unlawful arrests, and murder, In King Leopold’s Steps: The Investors Bankrolling the PHC Oil Palm Plantations in the Democratic Republic of Congo unveils the names of the investors financing the plantations in the DRC.
Communities in Lokutu, Yaligimba, and Boteka in the DRC were forcibly displaced in 1911 by the Belgian colonial authorities to establish oil palm plantations. Livelihoods have been severely impacted as a result — hunger and poverty are widespread while the dumping of untreated industrial waste has polluted a major source of drinking water. Community members, working as laborers on the plantations, have been subjected to unpaid wages and unsafe working conditions.
In King Leopold’s Steps unravels the opaque nature of private equity to unmask the current investors bankrolling the PHC plantations. Straight KKM is owned by various funds affiliated with Kuramo Capital Management — which claims to be Africa’s “leading independent investment management firm.” Several high-profile investors include: The University of Michigan Endowment, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, the South African Government Employees Pension Fund and Public Investment Corporation, and the Royal County of Berkshire Pension Scheme, among others.